Brother from Another Mother

On my wedding day, I didn’t have a bridesmaid. I had a brides butler. But although I didn’t have any of the traditional bridesmaids activities or pre-marriage rituals, I couldn’t have picked any other person to be my brides-butler. And nobody else could have been a better choice.

Simon has been in my life for as long as I’ve had any conscious awareness. Our parents worked together when we were born – infact, I wonder sometimes if the birth of Simon inspired my conception. Born in mid-February, he (and Anson – born towards the end of February) are both 9 months older than me. So it *is* possible… (*shudder*)

Throughout my life, from childish games, to massive play date sessions at each other’s houses, to school playground protection and right up to post-uni emotional crumbles, Simon has always been there. Anyone who knows him is clear that he is one of the rare breed of Good Guys. He’s a rock to many, many people. He’s easy-going, diplomatic, silent and strong. And though I have no right to, I have felt a strong claim of protection over his happiness for as long as I’ve known him. I would not be surprised if I was not the only person to feel this way.

You see, you don’t meet people like Simon very often. We click. We name the song within the first bar. We know the same cheesy 80s dance moves. We know all the lyrics from a certain era. We get the same pop cultural references. We grew up together and knew each other at our most awkward phases. There is no one in the world I feel more at ease with – with the single exception of my husband. I don’t know anybody else like him. He is, to me, my brother (from another mother) – the big brother I always wished I had.

Today, I had the privilege of witnessing his marriage to Alyson, with his best man, Anson, by his side at an intimate ceremony of family and friends. Now, I’ll be honest and tell you that I’ve battled with my emotions over my connection with Simon on numerous occasions over the years since I’ve married and had children. The connection I’ve always felt for him is one that has been given diminished attention as life has developed. With dating, working, settling down – there is less and less emotional space for such a friendship. It gets put to one side, unattended. But the emotions never retire – they just wait until needed. As the day for Simon’s marriage grew closer, I had a myriad of emotions and reactions to it. Mostly confused – I wasn’t sure if I qualified for any sort of right to be there anymore. Coupled with this, there have been a number of tough life events for both Simon and Anson – beyond my life experience and ability to comprehend. Though my heart broke and I yearned to help, I was often at a loss at how best to be there for either of them as I would find myself frequently at a loss for words around them, overwhelmed by emotion.

So, today myself and my little family attended Simon’s wedding to Alyson, excited and eager to be able to share in such a special celebration for him, but also a little unsure about how I would feel about the day. Knowing very little about Alyson, I only knew to trust in Simon’s unwavering ability to make clear and even-handed decisions. He has never been one to be rushed or pressured into a wrong decision and that alone should have been reason enough to put any unease I felt to rest.

The day started with a lovely, small and intimate ceremony. Beautiful and elegant. Special. Perfectly fitting. Then moved onto the Chinese wedding banquet – noisy, busy, big and necessary for our culture. Handled with big smiles and a good natured attitude throughout, the newlyweds took it all in their stride and showed little fatigue. For all British-born Chinese people, you will be impressed to hear that the lobsters were big/plentiful and juicy, and each and every single dish was *very* generous in portions. But the real stamp of personality from the newlyweds came in the evening reception. Where the photo montage of both their childhoods brought lumps to many throats – culminating in a truly heart bursting collection of photos showing their life together so far. The pure happiness, love and joy – and memories of such special people so recently lost to us – were poignantly selected and perfectly presented. There was not a dry eye in the house as we all saw with our own eyes how wonderfully and deeply happy the new Mr and Mrs Tam are together. It was then I realised what I had been holding on to – the sense of protection over my “big brother”, the need to know that he is okay – it dissipated into thin air as the tears flowed uncontrolled. Simon is truly happy, and it made my heart sing to see it.

As if that was not enough emotion already, a tearful Simon then took to the microphone to deliver his speech. For all his strengths and amazing qualities, one of his lesser known outstanding talents, is his speech writing. As he began to read from his prepared notes, and his emotions came forth, I was reminded (as I often am at weddings nowadays) of the Father of the Bride speech he wrote for his now late father, to deliver at his eldest sister (Tessa)’s wedding in 2006. It was hands down, the best speech I had ever heard. The delivery was perfect and the emotion was true. So when Simon began his speech, he brought his father into the room. And with Anson at his side, to bolster the emotions, we all saw before us the evidence of a truly amazing friendship and brotherhood – reflecting and superceding the friendship of their late fathers before them. It was emotional, raw and authentic. They are so blessed to have each other and we were so blessed to be able to share that moment in the same room. I struggle to recall it without feeling it all over again…

And so I arrived home late tonight, with my husband and children finally tumbled into bed at midnight and find myself writing out this blogpost – to say all the things I wanted to say at the wedding but couldn’t find a way, or the words wouldn’t come… The words began for Simon… but actually are largely for Alyson.

Today I learned that my heart can burst at the sight of seeing my “big brother” finally, truly happy. Today I learned that he is in the safe hands of a wonderful woman who sees the magical qualities that are present in Simon. Today I saw him marry a woman who will also help him to grow and develop, improving together in their future as husband and wife.

To Alyson:

I know I’m not real, blood family. I know I have little claim over Simon as a sensitive surrogate “little sister” he never really chose. And I know I’m rarely in your lives as I have my own life to keep busy with. But know that you are a very welcome modification to the wonderful Simon that I know and love. His happiness has meant more to me than I realised and seeing you both happily married together has closed a chapter that I had never realised was unfinished. Any chapters from here are now for you both to write and build together and I can’t wait to hear about them whenever the opportunity arises. I wish you both a true, open, communicative and nurturing marriage together. May you always have joy in your conversations, and comfort in your silences. May your love for each other bring you strength and peace in times of trouble. And may your journeys and experiences together enrich your lives with bounty you never knew could be possible.

With much love, blessings, good health and congratulations to you both on this, your very special wedding day, and for all the days to follow.

Connie x

Gratitude

This Christmas morning our children didn’t wake until 8:15am. They chattered between themselves and acknowledged (but bypassed) the bulging stockings we had hung for them in the middle of the night. Instead, they scuttled down to the bathroom to take their morning routine and to say ‘Merry Christmas’ to us in our bed. When we asked them if they had spotted the stockings,  they gave an excited “有啊!” Together they ran back up to explore the contents.

For the following 15 minutes we heard squealing and yelping as they pulled out treat after treat, toy after toy… then our boy came to their staircase and asked “Mami, Daddy! 我地可无可以开的 presents噶??” [Can we open these presents??]. And with a quick reminder to put rubbish in the bin they began. All we heard were continued yelps of joy punctuated by the clang of the bin lid.

At roughly 8:50 our little girl happened to venture down to the living room for something. She gasped as she reached the bottom of the stairs. She switched the light on and immediately shouted for us to come see “络利梯吓啦!!” She told us Santa has been here and he’s left footprints! When she rushed back up to tell her brother, his reaction was: “Not again”

It was a full 30 minutes longer before they finally came back down to see Santa’s gift. With the new Hot Wheels and toys to play with, there was just no rushing! Teeth were brushed and faces were washed. It was now time to descend to the main unwrapping event.

Santa’s existence was acknowledged – their presents were opened and he had brought the requested gifts. Without skipping a beat they moved straight onto the gifts under the tree. This was indicated by our boy exclaiming from the depths of his belly:
“LEGOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOÒOOOOOOOOO

我有新 LEGO 啊!!!!!!!”

Hilarious.

And so the time is now 9:50am.

The kids are still opening presents. The paper is going in the bin. And they continue to be excited. We have just heard a very loud gasp and our boy informed us from the stairs that they had just opened a present with “好多BOOKS啊!!” [Lots of books!!]

Omg too cute.

Meanwhile, we are still lying in bed. Relaxing. Surfing. Gaming. Blogging. Feeling blessed.

Merry Christmas everyone. May your day be filled with love, joy and laughter.

From a very happy and very grateful
Tu family
xx xx

Remember…

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” – Anne Lamott

Mr Right: Mr Always Right

Ten years ago today I met my now-husband. The man now known as Superhubs.

It wasn’t the romantic moment that people imagine it to be. There were no eyes locked across a crowded room. There were no magical shafts of light shining down on us from above. No thunderbolt. No singing angels. No cupid. Nor was it a civilised dinner event where mutually respected parties had machinated a relaxed but contrived circumstance under which we were to be formally introduced to each other. Actually, it was at a fairly weak excuse [British-born Chinese Social Night] for a drunken episode [in a bar/club] on a school [Monday] night.

There are a few things that hubs and myself like to note about that night. They are as follows…

1) He nearly didn’t attend due to ticket price. Let it be known that the tickets were priced at £4. He had been offered a discounted ticket for £2. When a potential ticketing problem occurred, he explicitly stated that if it were to cost more than £2, he wouldn’t be attending… Yes. Two. Whole. Pounds.

2) He nearly didn’t attend due to the typically late arrival of his companions for the evening, which caused him to already be excessively drunk at a different bar – the bar at which he was to meet said companions. Yes. He was already drunk when I met him.

3) I nearly didn’t get tickets in time to attend as my godbrother hadn’t managed to find time to pick some up. I ended up buying tickets on the afternoon of the event.

4) Neither one of us had planned on meeting/hooking up with anyone for the foreseeable future. Particularly as I was scheduled to leave the country 2 months later, and he was scheduled for a year long travel break in roughly 8 months.

5) We were not overly bowled over at our first introductions to each other. He looked dodgy-as-hell (to me) with his long (!) hair and pale appearance (which happens when he drinks). I was out with my [quite built] godbrother, who to the rest of the world appeared to be my boyfriend. Therefore I was “off-the-market” with a guy who could probably flatten most.

So it was not a strong start.

The trouble began when my now-husband became stranded by his companions. He stood, somewhat lost, by the edge of the grinding mob of the dance floor, clutching three drinks in his hands, scanning the darkened noisy room for a familiar face. As it turned out, I was acquainted with his companions. I had met them before at a friend’s barbeque. She and I had chatted and we had been friendly. Her boyfriend had brought his office buddy – a long-haired Chinese guy who sits next to him. When she had introduced him, she had given me that pursed-lips, raised eyebrow ‘look’ – the unspoken signal (between women) that this guy was Not To Be Trusted. Clearly, my senses lapsed when I reached out to inform him that “the guys you came with, I think, have gone outside to chat.” That was the moment when he became part of our bystanding people-watching two-strong event.

So, there we were. Two bystanders who became three. We stood. We sipped our drinks. We watched people. Then out of desperation for conversation I began to steer my godbrother to all the apparently single-looking females in the vicinity.  I threw out encouragement along the lines of: Bite the bullet. Seize the day. Go for it. Talk to her. Just offer to buy them a drink. YOU CAN DO IT. But like the mountain of a man that he is, he would not be moved. I grew frustrated. I turned to the newbie to repeat the words of encouragement. Like my godbrother, he too declined to engage. How annoying. Loudly I declared:

“Chinese men. ARE CRAP. They NEVER make the first move. EVER.”

I eyeballed the two Chinese men in my company: Godbrother and Dodgy Newbie. They looked at me, then each other. And newbie said: “That sounds like a challenge. I will prove you wrong. Tonight.”

And so he did. And ever since then, for the last ten years, he has been my Mr Right: Mr Always Right.

Socio…pathetic

Today, I found a resource where I found I could connect with other HSPs.

Today, I connected with people who described experiences in their lives that I could see reflected in my own life.

Today, I stopped feeling like I’m the only one.

At the age of 34, I am only just beginning to learn how to recognise the early signs of toxic and high-maintenance/low-return friendships. But I am far from gaining a much-needed immunity. Actually, with my increased level of self-understanding I have learned that my recurring [failed] friendship pattern in life seems to have been with Narcissists and Sociopaths.

What do I mean by a Narcissist?

People with narcissistic personality disorder often display snobbish, disdainful, or patronizing attitudes. For example, an individual with this disorder may complain about a clumsy waiter’s “rudeness” or “stupidity” or conclude a medical evaluation with a condescending evaluation of the physician. (source)

And what do I mean by Sociopath?

How to spot a Sociopath

  • Superficial charm and good intelligence
  • Absence of delusions and other signs of irrational thinking
  • Absence of nervousness or neurotic manifestations
  • Unreliability
  • Untruthfulness and insincerity
  • Lack of remorse and shame
  • Inadequately motivated antisocial behavior
  • Poor judgment and failure to learn by experience
  • Pathologic egocentricity and incapacity for love
  • General poverty in major affective reactions
  • Specific loss of insight
  • Unresponsiveness in general interpersonal relations
  • Fantastic and uninviting behavior with alcohol and sometimes without
  • Suicide threats rarely carried out
  • Sex life impersonal, trivial, and poorly integrated
  • Failure to follow any life plan

(source)

Now, before you brand me as a sensationalist drama queen and overly sensitive/taking my failures in friendships too personally (notice my immediate instinct for self-deprecating comments in order to excuse my sensitive personality) – here’s the article where my information comes from:

The Empathy TrapEmpathic People are Natural Targets for Sociopaths – Protect Yourself

…Have a read if you have time.

And so, to continue with my tradition of blogging about my failed friendships (both narcissists, as it turns out), I have one final memoir to type in order to complete the full trilogy. I promise, after this one, there will be no more. Partly because I will no longer blog about them; partly because I hope that it will never happen again. And it’s The Big One too. This was when I nearly became caught in the Empath-Sociopath-Apath triangle…

I have mentioned a significant friend in the past

I have a friend with whom I have a love/hate relationship with.  I love her, and I love to hate and complain about her. She’s fabulously thick skinned and tough though – one of her greatest personality traits is that she is unapologetic about herself. So, I can complain to her about what she’s done to annoy me. But she won’t apologise for it; She won’t get hurt by it. She takes it on the chin, explains herself, but ultimately we just agree to disagree. Rarely does she acquiesce to my point of view. It’s quite a unique friendship and one that I have definitely come to appreciate for it’s long-standing quality despite the aggravation I sometimes subject myself to as a result of her actions, lol.

Taking note of the parts I have highlighted, it seems so transparently clear now, but at the time I was utterly and completely taken in. Always the life and soul of every social event, I had always enjoyed her compelling company. She always made time to see me and she very much enjoyed our chats.

Often empaths are targeted by sociopaths because they pose the greatest threat. The empath is usually the first to detect that something is not right and express what s/he senses. As a consequence, the empath is both the sociopath’s number one foe and a source of attraction; the empath’s responses and actions provide excellent entertainment for sociopaths, who use and abuse people for sport. (source)

But the turning point came when she became a mother. As a HSP (empath), I saw and heard about the pathological corner-cutting approach to childcare and parental duties; I simply could not ignore it. When I became so deeply unsettled by the insight into her parenting style, I naturally began express my concern. Firstly to mutual friends. I was concerned that nobody seemed to know enough about the situation to be concerned, therefore a positive change would be unlikely. I started to seek support, find others who would help me to rehabilitate so-called friend. Teach her, educate her, support her to learn new methods. However, I slowly began to realise that I was forming a deplorable habit of constantly moaning to all and sundry about the same person, over and over again: Not a nice situation to put myself into –  nobody likes to spend time with a moaner and nobody likes to *be* a moaner. I was in very real danger of engaging the…

SOCIOPATH-EMPATH-APATH TRIAD

The usual set-up goes like this: the empath is forced to make a stand on seeing the sociopath say or do something underhand. The empath challenges the sociopath, who straight away throws others off the scent and shifts the blame on to the empath. The empath becomes an object of abuse when the apath corroborates the sociopath’s perspective.

The situation usually ends badly for the empath and sometimes also for the apath, if their conscience returns to haunt them or they later become an object of abuse themselves. But, frustratingly, the sociopath often goes scot free. (source)

Being blithely unaware that it could flip and turn against me, I waited and I waited for the opportunity for a confrontation with the friend in question. I prepared to finally confess that I knew of the lax, neglectful and sometimes dangerous tactics she utilised in her parenting style. I was ready to declare that I simply could not stand by and turn a blind eye anymore. I mentally lay waiting like a coiled spring.

But the day never came.

As it turned out, I had never been privy to her inner social circle. Despite the numerous personal conversations where my advice had been sought (and repeatedly unheeded), I had merely existed in her life for the sport and entertainment of my impassioned and sensitive reactions to whatever she decided to share with me that day. I was unimportant and expendable. She had already started the “discard phase” on our friendship.

Eventually I uncoiled. Slowly I calmed down. Finally I moved on.

Life has been much better since :)

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If you think you, or someone you know, might have an Antisocial Personality Disorder, or have a Narcissistic Personality Disorder, there are tests for that too…

Personality Disorder Test

Narcissistic Personality Quiz